Moving to Panama

Country Guide: Panama

Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Original Bill of Lading (OBL) / Air Waybill (AWB)
  • Original Passport (Diplomatic Passport required for Diplomats)
  • Original detailed inventory
  • Copy of Panamanian Cedula (Panamanian citizens)
  • Copy of documents proving that shipper has lived abroad for at least 2 years (utility bill, etc.)
  • Letter of Employment addressed to Panamanian Customs (Working Visa holders)
  • Copy of Carnet from Immigration / Letter from Panamanian Attorney addressed to Panamanian Customs, stating that the shipper’s Visa is in process (Working / Reforestation / Self-Solvency Visa holders)
  • Copy of Pensionado Carnet / Original of Letter from Attorney in Panama addressed to Panamanian Customs, stating that Shipper’s Visa is in process (Pensionado / Jubilado Visa holders)
  • Copy of Approved Visa Resolution Form (Pensionado / Jubilado Visa holders)
  • Original Retirement Letter from the previous working entity or the Government, stamped by Panamanian Consulate at origin (Pensionado / Jubilado Visa holders)
  • Copy of Investor Carnet / Copy of Letter from Attorney in Panama addressed to Panamanian Customs, stating that shipper’s Visa is in process (Investor Visa holders)
  • Copy of Certificate of Incorporation of the Panamanian Company (Investor Visa holders)
  • Copy of the Social Agreement / Pacto Social (Investor Visa holders)
  • Letter from Employer in Panama to Customs requesting the free entry of household goods and personal effects (Diplomats)
  • Letter from bank in Panama where shipper hold accounts with six figures addressed to Panamanian Customs (Self-Solvency)
  • Commercial Invoice in Spanish for Antiques, Artifacts, Carpets or Art

Specific Information

  • Panamanian citizens returning to the country, after having lived abroad for no less than two years, can import free of tax used household goods and personal effects. New household goods are subject to import duties of approximately 20% based on the cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value.
  • All Diplomats and public officials entering the country with a diplomatic or official Passport or those arriving with a contract from the Panamanian Government have franchise privileges and will not be subject to the usual inspection or examination of the household goods by Customs; however, fumigation and inspections by quarantine may be required.
  • The goods must be used and show evidence of use.
  • The shipper must be in the country when shipment arrives.
  • All shipments containing wooden furniture must obtain an Import Quarantine Permit; agent must receive documents at least 1 week prior to shipment arrival. The weight of the shipment, number of pieces and shipper’s Passport number must be included on the OBL.
  • Do not include prohibited articles such as food, alcohol, arms, ammunitions, drugs, etc. in the shipment.
  • Original documents should be sent by courier and not through regular mail.
  • Personal effects should arrive within 6 months after the shipper’s arrival date; only two shipments within this period are permitted.
  • All shipments are subject to inspection at the port of entry (POE), but due to cargo congestion and the potential for mishandling, the inspection may occur at the shipper’s residence at the time of delivery. This is a special service and mandatory payment by the shipper directly to the government is required.
  • All shipments are inspected by Panamanian Customs authorities, except diplomatic shipments, but all shipments will be inspected by quarantine authorities.
  • The Commercial Invoice must include the serial number, branch for electronic items, type, and material of each item listed.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Original Passport
  • OBL (with costs shown)
  • Original Certificate of Title
  • Original Commercial Invoice from the dealership where purchased
  • Original Retirement Letter from the previous working entity or the Government, stamped by the Panamanian Consulate at origin, translated in Spanish (Pensionado / Jubilado Visa holders)

Specific Information

  • All automobiles imported to Panama are subject to taxes of approximately 30% based on a Panamanian Customs Authorities appraisal plus shipping costs and insurance.
  • Pensionados or Jubilados can apply for a partial exemption with a permanent Pensionado Carnet.
  • Motor vehicles belonging to accredited Diplomats, members of international organizations, or U.S. contractors are free of duties and taxes (1 vehicle only).

Pets

Documents Required

  • Vaccination Certificate / Carnet
  • Veterinary Health Certificate legalized at the Panamanian Consulate (should include vaccinations)
  • Domiciliary Quarantine (must be provided 3 days prior to arrival of the pet)

Specific Information

  • The Veterinary Health Certificate must be issued by a veterinarian in the origin country and be valid for a period of 10 days; it must be stamped by the Ministry of Agriculture and submitted to the Panamanian Consulate to be processed.
  • The pet must arrive between 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Pets arriving at other times will have to stay until the next business day; it may be possible to make arrangements with the veterinarian at the airport for flights arriving after 2:00 pm, Monday through Friday for an additional cost.

Restricted/Dutiable Items

  • Cars
  • Motorcycles
  • Boats
  • Items not considered a part of the household goods shipment

Prohibited Items

  • Straw or hay packing in lift-vans
  • Narcotics
  • Drugs
  • Food items
  • Beverages
  • Live plants
  • Weapons and ammunition (includes firearms)
  • Right-hand drive vehicles

Consignment Instructions

Recommended: Contact the destination agent to ensure all requirements have been met prior to import, especially for differences regarding air / sea shipments.

IAM Note: Customs regulations can change at any time with or without notice. This document is provided as a guide and for information only. While IAM has exercised reasonable care in publishing this document, IAM makes no representation, either expressed or implied, as to its accuracy or applicability.

Helpful Website(s):

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_994.html

http://www.embassyofpanama.org/cms/index3.php

IAM Note: Customs regulations can change at any time with or without notice. This document is provided as a guide and for information only. While IAM has exercised reasonable care in publishing this document, IAM makes no representation, either expressed or implied, as to its accuracy or applicability.